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Paul Ricard day one - Hamilton sets pace for French test 15 May 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 Formula One Testing, Day One, Paul Ricard, France, 14 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008 Formula One Testing, Day One, Paul Ricard, France, 14 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08 gets out of the car after stopping in the pitlane Formula One Testing, Day One, Paul Ricard, France, 14 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW29 Formula One Testing, Day One, Paul Ricard, France, 14 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Alex Wurz (AUT) Honda RA108 Formula One Testing, Day One, Paul Ricard, France, 14 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was the quickest man in action on Wednesday as this week’s multi-team test at Paul Ricard got underway. Hamilton clocked a best time of 1m 05.600s around the French circuit, which was configured to a short layout to allow the teams to make preparations for the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix.

With clear and sunny conditions it proved a busy day for all the teams. Leader Hamilton covered 84 laps in the MP4-23 as he focused on set-up and tyre work as well as a preliminary evaluation of McLaren's Monaco-specific aero package. He will hand over driving duties to team mate Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished second quickest after completing 103 laps in the F2008. Raikkonen was charged with testing new aerodynamic components for the Italian team and was just over a tenth of a second faster than Robert Kubica for BMW Sauber.

Despite a precautionary engine change following an oil leak on his F1.08, Kubica covered 124 laps and made good progress with his set-up for Monaco. The Polish driver will continue to test on Thursday.

Mark Webber clocked the fourth-fastest time after a trouble-free day's running in the Red Bull. Webber tried both the ‘soft’ and ‘super-soft’ tyre compounds that Bridgestone will supply in Monaco, even though the much smoother Paul Ricard track normally demands a harder tyre. Webber will hand over the RB4 to team mate David Coulthard on Thursday.

Finishing under three-hundredths adrift of the Red Bull was Sebastian Vettel’s Toro Rosso. It was Vettel’s first chance to sample the team’s new car, the STR03, and the young German completed 99 laps, despite a few teething problems. Team mate Sebastien Bourdais will take over on Thursday.

Williams’ Nico Rosberg was the busiest man at the track, completing 154 laps in the FW30 and clocking the sixth-quickest time. He finished a tenth ahead of Honda tester Alexander Wurz in seventh. Wurz took charge of an aerodynamic evaluation in preparation for the Monaco Grand Prix and covered 142 laps.

Eighth place on the timesheets was taken up by Timo Glock for Toyota. Glock tried out different set-ups and aerodynamic configurations, alongside tyre testing. The Geman finished over four-tenths up on Force India tester Vitantonio Liuzzi in ninth. Liuzzi tested the team’s Monaco-spec aero developments and completed 106 laps.

Completing Wednesday’s line-up was Renault test driver Lucas di Grassi in tenth. Di Grassi evaluated new components for the R28 and racked up 146 laps. Team mate Nelson Piquet will be in the Renault cockpit for the rest of the week.

“Today we were preparing the car for the race in Monaco next week and so we needed to test some new parts to make sure that everything was okay,” said Di Grassi. “The day was quite productive and we tested most of what we needed to, and I was happy to be back in the car and to complete so many laps. So a good day's work.”

The test will continue at Paul Ricard on Thursday, when rain has been forecast.

Unofficial Wednesday test times from Paul Ricard:
1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:05.600
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:06.098
3. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:06.177
4. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:06.348
5. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:06.372
6. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:06.571
7. Alexander Wurz, Honda, 1:06.681
8. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:06.936
9. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:07.346
10. Lucas di Grassi, Renault, 1:07.430